Some students struggle at larger schools and need more individualized attention to flourish. That's where the new Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) campus in Vista comes in.
The school, which hasn't been named yet, opened in February, combining classes that used to be held at three separate locations. By bringing these students together on a larger campus, educators there are able to give them a more typical educational experience while still offering them the extra attention they need. They can even take elective classes, such as basketball, art and career planning.
There are 85 students at the school in grades 7 through 12. They come from across North County, and most will stay there for a year or more. Students who are able to catch up on their credits can graduate from the school. Others can go back to their home school districts after they meet certain requirements.
When planning began for the school, many people were concerned about bringing together students from different neighborhoods and potentially from rival gangs.
Instead of keeping the students separate, educators and a consultant with Project AWARE worked for months to prepare the students for the situation. That work involved small focus groups that helped the teens learn about conflict resolution, emotional issues, and healthy relationships—skills many of them simply aren't getting at home or on the streets.
"I'm telling them, it doesn't have to be fight or flight," Principal Ben Nakamura said. "We're going to teach and practice those conflict resolutions skills, and we're going to work it out here."
So far, there haven't been any fights; instead there has been a high level of cooperation that has surprised many, including the students themselves.